I was thinking about quitting Instagram at the end of July, but I haven’t. However, I did take a break from it in August (only spending a few minutes a week posting Stories and liking some posts/updates from the people I follow), and apparently, it gave me enough time to read.

If you’re curious about the books I read during my Instagram break:

  1. The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett
  2. The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
  3. The Secret Life of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
  4. Elevation by Stephen King
  5. Imaginary Friends by Stephen Chbosky
  6. Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh
  7. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  8. People from My Neighbourhood by Hiromi Kawakami
  9. The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers (I love her writing!)

 

I found it impressive (and rewarding!) to have so much time to read when I am not thinking about what to post next on Instagram and trying to fit ‘sharing content’ on my schedule. This might be one of the reasons why I didn’t enjoy the platform that much: that constant pressure from the algorithm to churn more and more content was tiring.

A recent post from my dear Clara Devi, however, made me rethink that sentiment.

About haven’t been updating her blog for quite some time, she wrote:

"Here's a verdict: nobody expected me to be perfect, apparently (where have I been?). Nobody thinks of giving me pressure (except myself), and zero question is being thrown regarding why I let my blog stay aloof in the passing eight months (now nine). People are just super kind and supportive and chill. It IS the privilege that I should be thankful for."

Clara Devi, Lucedale.co

She is right. It isn’t about the changing algorithm.

It is more about the pressure I give myself to let the algorithm dictate my relationship with Instagram, with the platform.

It’s something I don’t care too much about when it comes to my blog: I see this blog as my own private space, where I can write about whatever I want without worrying about SEO or page rankings. I feel like I can always type something—anything, so spontaneously and I can take a break or go on a hiatus whenever I feel the need to.

I am happy enough to keep this blog as a cabinet of curiosities where I document my life, a place where I’ll keep on writing and posting entries even when there’s nobody here commenting, liking, or reading it.

And I realized that I want to have this kind of relationship with Instagram or whatever platforms I want to experiment with in the future.

***

So, I’ve been reading a lot during my break, and I’ve been writing a lot as well—revisiting my writing practice—and strengthen my muscle to work on a longer narrative piece. And, oh, a piece of news to share: the poem I wrote last year was published in an Italian poetry journal, the 29th edition of Antologia del Premio Internazionale, Centro Giovani e Poesia Triuggio (Prometheus, 2020).

The poem was originally written in English and titled ‘Language School for Strangers’ (the title of the translated poem is All’inizio—’at the beginning’).

Here’s the English version for you to read:

LANGUAGE SCHOOL FOR STRANGERS

At first,

the racket of separation;

of a life packed across the ocean;

of dreams set into an unexpected motion.

[ porto. documento. punto di controllo. ]

A week,
the silence of cardboard boxes piled on top of one another,
the barely-there hum of a second-hand refrigerator;
the not-so-temporary matter.

[ farmacia. stazione di polizia. scuola. ]

A month,
the resonance of a faraway life;
of roots severed with a knife;
of letters and comfort blankets that never arrived.

[ sono. sei. siamo. ]

Three months,
the rhythm of fears and many failed starts;

of worries and not fitting in for the most parts;

of slurs that lurks and, at times, barks.
[ dove. perché. come. ]

Six months,

the distant whirl of a shy hello;
the shriek of coming in contact with snow;

the way the winter sun casts a neighbor’s house in a soft shadow.

[ fare. avere. stare. ]

A year,
the way Hellen Keller first spelled W-A-T-E-R;
the explosion of meanings, letter upon letter upon letter;
you sew the words, and the sentence rolls with laughter.

[ ascoltare. mangiare. amare. ]

***

I’ve been back to Instagram these days, posting more snippets from the behind-the-scene of my life, spontaneously. I may go on another break or hiatus some of these days, then I may pop back up. A friend of mine told me that I am somewhat ‘elusive’, and maybe she was right. Some weeks I may be around, and some other weeks I may be retreating into my woman’s cave, preparing things to share into the world slowly, gently, without the rush.

Clara is right.

I have the privilege of not having to treat my blog or my social media platforms as a work thing, and I am thankful for that. I just need to remind myself from time to time that it is okay to carve a space and a schedule of my own. That sharing is not supposed to be a burden or a responsibility.

It’s supposed to be fun and exciting; like that feeling when you’re about to reunite with an old friend after some time, full to the brim with the enthusiasm of spilling the stories, giddy to listen to what they’ve been up to.

I need to remember that feeling.

And I hope you’ll be that friend 🙂

hanny

4 Responses

  1. Mbak Hani, selamat ya puisinya sudah diterbitkan dan jadi salah satu bagian dalam buku. Ikut senang bacanya.

    Aku dulu pernah punya perasaan yg sama saat awal2 ngeblog. Terlalu membawa blog jadi serius sampai merasa harus posting. Merasa kalau ga posting akan ditinggalkan yg baca. Lama2 nyadar, blog kan aku pakai buat mendokumentasikan yg ingin kudokumentasikan. Ya klo lagi ga ingin, ya ga masalah. Lama2 jadi santai aja sama media sosial. Apalagi setelah 7 bulan benar2 ga menyentuh satupun media sosial yg kupunya.

  2. Hai, Mbak Deny! Salam kenal 🙂 Iya, benar banget, Mbak. Aku merasa demikian juga; merasa diingatkan bahwa nge-blog itu ya dibawa santai aja, berbagi karena memang ingin berbagi 😀 Wah, 7 bulan nggak menyentuh media sosial, hebat! 😀

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Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash
In the end, self-care is not always about doing the things that make us feel good or give us instant gratification. It's also about doing the RIGHT thing: something that is good for us in the long run—even if it may feel hard at times.
Hanny illustrator
Hi. I'm HANNY
I am an Indonesian writer and an artist/illustrator based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I love facilitating writing/creative workshops and retreats, especially when they are tied to self-exploration and self-expression. In Indonesian, 'beradadisini' means being here. So, here I am, documenting life—one word at a time.

hanny

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